Michigan’s largest restaurant trade group is urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow the state’s restaurants to reopen for on-premise dining May 29.
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA), a subsidiary of the National Restaurant Association, issued a document Friday titled Roadmap to Reopening, which lays out steps the state’s hospitality industry should take in preparation to do business again. According to an MRLA news release, the Roadmap plan was sent to Whitmer’s office.
“Knowing that half of all states have already reopened restaurant dining in some capacity, we felt the time was right to share our expertise with Governor Whitmer so that she has every tool she needs to safely reopen restaurants on May 29,” MRLA CEO and President Justin Winslow said in the release.
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The 26-page booklet synthesizes guidelines from federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food & Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the governor’s own executive orders and the Michigan Economic Recovery Committee’s protocols.
Though purely prescriptive in nature, the document is the most cogent glimpse into what may be the new normal for restaurant owners, their staffs and customers.
Suggestions cited in the Roadmap include:
- Expanded cleaning procedures.
- Establishing COVID-19 response teams that are specifically trained on the new policies.
- Establishing policies for dealing with employees who test positive for the novel coronavirus.
- Conducting employee health screenings every shift.
- Requiring the use of PPE, including face masks and gloves, by every employee.
- Maintaining the 6-foot social distancing guide lines for customers and rearranging dining rooms as necessary.
- Conducting customer health screenings at owners’ discretion.
- Dealing with supply chain issues and making menus more accessible to customers.
The pandemic has had an outsized impact on the state’s hospitality industry. According to the MRLA’s own surveys, 3 out of 4 Michigan’ restaurant workers are unemployed, and the industry as a whole lost out on $1.2 billion in sales in April alone.
“Michigan restaurants have been decimated since their forced closure on March 16,” Winslow added. “Those that remain in business stand ready to meet or exceed the challenging, but necessary new standard procedures that will keep their guests and team members safe. These restaurateurs are Michiganders who need to be afforded that opportunity before it is too late.”
Thursday, Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 28, noting that Michigan is currently in Stage 3 — flattening — in a six-stage plan to reopen the economy. According to the governor’s plan, restaurants won’t be allowed to reopen until Stage 5 — containment — is reached.
Send your dining tips to Free Press Restaurant Critic Mark Kurlyandchik at or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MKurlyandchik and Instagram @curlyhandshake. Read more restaurant news and reviews and sign up for our Food and Dining newsletter.
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